Jose Luis Rugeles helms guerrilla drama

Colombian production house Rhayuela Cine, the company behind “The Stoplight Society” and “El Paramo,” is readying “Maria.”

Directed by Rhayuela founder Jose Luis Rugeles (“Garcia”), “Maria” is set, as many Colombian films, against the background of the armed conflict between the Farc guerrillas, paramilitary forces and the Colombian army.

But it comes in at the conflict from a fresh angle: The fate of girl guerrilla fighters who, if pregnant, are forced to abort or, if they give birth, give up their babies.

In “Maria,” the eponymous 14-year-old Farc soldier, is given the mission of delivering a newly born baby to a family nearby. Secretly pregnant, and intent on keeping her baby, she escapes with the guerrillas on her heels, facing certain death if recaptured.

“This is a completely intimate film, about the abuse of children, how they’ve been robbed of their childhood,” Rugeles said.

Set deep in the Colombian jungle, “Maria’s” screenplay is written by Rugeles and Diego Vivanco, his co-scribe on “Garcia.” Federico Duran and Steven Grisales produce for Rhayuela.

Rhayuela is fielding interest from European sales agents, which could allow “Maria” to be structured as an international co-production, Duran told Variety.

If a European co-prod, the film can qualify for European quotas and Media Program funding and have solid distribution in Europe.

International deals in turn would help trigger domestic funding — Colombian subsidies from Proimagenes, and TV and private investment, Duran added.

Based on interviews with former Farc guerrillas, “Maria” comes on the heels of Rhayuela’s “Paramo” (aka “The Squad”), now in advanced post.

Handled by Wild Bunch, Jaime Osorio’s war/horror pic has pre-sold to major territories such as U.K. (Momentum) and Germany (Telepool), a notable feat for a Spanish-language film by a first-time director.

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